When wanderlust takes over.
In my meagre 30 plus years of existence I have been to nearly 50 countries and the more I travel, the more I love to travel. It is my favourite addiction (tied with coffee) that can only be described as the reason I’m alive. Travelling is what fills my world with happiness and adventure. It connects me with other humans and nature; both the gritty, difficult side of life and the magnificently beautiful and genuine.
Travel is my truest, most honest passion and one that makes me whole, without it, I would know nothing. I live for the experience, whether far off in a remote little known island or a touristy, cheesy destination. My senses are sharpened by these moments and I could not imagine what my life would be like if I could not live it on the move.
I have been utterly lost in translation, communicating without words, where in some places, open minded people will go out of their way to help; like that guy in Hong Kong who spoke no English but spent an hour walking around with my friend and I to find our hotel (which we would have never found ourselves). To the time I stumbled upon a Turkish wedding in Istanbul and they invited us in to eat and dance and share in their celebrations. We couldn’t communicate with words, but instead with food and gestures and true, pure joy. I’m so eager to fall in love with a place.
I throw myself completely in, without hesitation, willing to be vulnerable, to know and learn and love. These are the places I fell hardest for and continue to compare my moments to; a grab bag of reasons why I love them, but my heart and mind have an endless amount of space to hold on to them all and the cities, countries and places that I have yet to discover.
Feeling alive in New York City
I talk about it all of the time. It was the first place my mom took me to when I was 13 and we stayed up day and night to see as much as we could. She grew up there and instilled a love in me for the city that never sleeps and I continue to compare all other cities to it. Its vibrant energy, its expression of being alive, its ability to provide everything for everyone at the exact same time; NYC is a gateway drug to all other places in the world and I’m 100% addicted. Culture, museums, food, the change of seasons, festivals, art, music, Broadway, business, money money money, luxury, and opportunity, I LOVE NY!
Lost in translation: Laughter Vietnam
As much as I fell for the pho in Vietnam, it is not the only reason I loved this country. While the north and south are completely different, they share a sharpwitted sense of humour. Sure they can’t speak English all that well, but no matter how softly or how quickly I made a sarcastic comment, they somehow found all the right words to jab back with a cheeky smile. The people are resilient and I credit their humour and hospitality as their ability to bounce back from a rich but difficult history.
Mediterranean lifestyle in Malta
The coastline is rocky and dramatic, the sea is warm and inviting, and the people have quietly found a way to live an island life that doesn’t beg for tourists but casually flutters its beauty so that people come and go, if they want to, like they have been doing for millenia. When I’m there, I start to recognise people in the small towns, walking down the promenade, playing bingo, grocery shopping. It’s so easy to slip right into the local life, and it’s incredibly charming. They’ve somehow figured out that there’s no need to worry, no need to stress, no need to open your store at regular hours of the day, but instead to just find the deep blue beautiful sea, cool off, and take life as it comes.
Paradise found in Hawaii
The gentle breeze of Pacific island air greets you as you step off of your plane and into Hawaii. All the movies, all the tales of the perfect island life, all the pictures you have in your head about this paradise….. they are true. Hawaii is the epitome of easy. The people are kind and friendly because they know they have the perfect weather, the perfect beaches, the perfect seafood, and the perfect life. Go for a surf, put a flower in your hair, find a volcano, cruise around the Big Island to the North Shore and explore. They have a saying in Hawaii that made my knees buckle and it was love at first proverb, ‘we don’t eat until we are full, we eat until we sleep,’ and to me, that is the true meaning of paradise!
Complete serenity in Clanwilliam
Small but mighty, the Clanwilliam dam is my little place of happiness. Nostalgic for my husband, who grew up playing in the water, summer after summer, Clanwilliam is a sleepy town with little to do but braai, nap, read, and swim. We wake up early, with the sunrise to hear birds chirping and the whistling of wind through the trees. We watch the embers light up in the dark night sky, because for now, there’s nothing else to get in our way. We laze around in the afternoon because the days get too hot and read or eat watermelon or fall asleep on the sandy banks of the dam. The Cederberg in the distance, the shimmer of the water, and the solitude offer an opportunity to reset.
Samba, Cachaca and late nights in Rio
A few years ago I rang in the New Year on Copacabana with just about 3,000,000 other celebrators. The city was wild and infectious with an energy I’d never felt before. Everyone, everywhere, with just a little bit of clothing and a lot of local cachaca, danced until the morning. I lost my friends, but made others along the way, while people invited me to throw my hands in the air and move with the samba beats. The men and women are warm and friendly and live life for the moment. When you meet someone, even if never before, they embrace you with warmth and kindness. You don’t have to speak the language to understand that Brazilians know how to have a good time and Rio’s breathtaking beauty only compliments its bold bonanza nights.
Eating in Italy
I recently asked Francesca Biancoli, an Italian singer living in Cape Town, where the best Italian food in the Mother City is: her response, ‘my house.’ Another import, who heads up Puglia Cheese, said South Africa’s tomatoes are the best in the world, only after Italy. When they answer, I know what they are going to say before they say it and bask in the arrogance Italians have for their cuisine because it is absolutely justified. From top to bottom the country is full of fresh, clean, simple tastes that have been perfected by families for centuries. When you dig a little deeper, the Italians translate it to love. They add love and passion to their dishes giving way to hospitality through their cooking. They invite you to come in, try, taste and become swept up in feeling incredible by a full stomach and an olive oil glow! They don’t take no for an answer and honestly, why would you ever deny yourself? Italy is purely delicious.
So you see, this sincere, rewarding passion of mine has shown me that the world out there is not so different, that we all seek to provide for ourselves, our families, our basic needs, but that, even in the hardest of places, even when people have little, we have laughter and when we can cut through all the scary and crazy misunderstandings a smile will lend itself to alleviating tension and open up doors that were always meant to be opened. Through awareness and exploration and never exploitation, wanderlust has continued to challenge and change me. So live well, travel often and become ‘local’ wherever you go! Rich opportunities and abundant joy await! Just start……